By the end of the topic, learners should be able to:
a) Identify different types of registers.
b) Use appropriate register for different social interaction.

Register is the level of formality in which one can speak.
Different situations and different people call for different registers, for example, you cannot talk to your boss the same way you talk to your friends.


There are three language registers which must be used in their appropriate setting. Consider the following:
             Audience (Whom you are talking to?)
             Location (where you are, for example, in an office or at home.)
             Topic (What is being talked about.)
             Purpose (why you are talking about that topic.)

4.1.1 Formal register

1. This is more appropriate for professional and serious situations.
2. It can be in spoken or in writing, involving people you do not know well or the ones in authority.
3. It has no emotions involved.
4. It is used for,
    •                            Business letters
                                 Official speeches

    4.1.2 Informal register

    It is conversational and appropriate when writing to friends and people you know very well.
    It includes:
                                      Phone texts
                                      Short notes
                                      Friendly letters
                                      Diaries and journals

    4.1.3 Neutral register

    It is none emotional and sticks to facts.
    It is most appropriate for practical writings.
    This includes:
                                      Some letters
                                      Some essays
                                      Practical writing


    1) Tone and mood

    Tone- It refers to pitch, quality and strength of a person’s voice when talking.
    A person’s tone can tell you whether a person is angry, joyous, sad, or excited.
    Mood- Mood is created by the tone of the speaker.
    Tone and mood work hand in hand.
    It can be described as the prevailing atmosphere within which an exchange of words takes place and it is usually created by the tone of the speakers for example, it can be sad, gloomy, relaxed, happy etc.

    2) Character

    This is the way a person behaves and how she or he acts.

    3) Attitude

    The way one thinks or feels about something.

    4) Manner

    This is the way a person speaks or responds to an utterance.

    5) Emotions or Feelings

    A feeling is an emotional state.
    Emotions are sensations resulting from one’s circumstances, mood or relationship with others


    Communication conveys messages of:

    A. Introductions

    Introductions can be formal or informal.
    The use of register can tell you the status of the person you are meeting and their relationship with the person making the introductions.
    When introducing two people who have never met before, you use formal register.
    Later, you can shift to informal register, depending on the situation, as they get to know each other better, for example:

    An example of a formal introduction

    Dr. Jones: “Good morning Professor Smith. I’m Dr. Jones”
    Professor Smith: “It is an honour to meet you. You can call me Smith”

    Informal introductions are normally used when you meet people in an informal setting.
    Here’s an example of an informal introduction:

    “Jane do you know Bob? He is a friend of mine.”
    “Hi Bob, How are you?”

    B. Greetings

    Greetings can be formal or informal depending on setting and relationship.
    Informal greeting is used by friends.
    Children can also use it when greeting their parents.
    Informal greetings are characterized by the following words hi, hello, how is it? For example, read the dialogue below:

         Shaun: “Hi James, how is it?”
         James: “Hello Shaun. I am fit what about you?”

    Formal greeting is used when strangers meet or when pupils greet their teacher.
    When greeting formally, we use words like Sir, Mr., Mrs., and many more.

    C. Invitations

    An invitation can be accepted or declined.
    Accepting and declining must be done politely so as not to offend the person inviting you.

    Refusing an invitation
    I’d really like to but I might not be around.
    Well that’s very kind of you, but I am afraid I can’t manage it
    I wish I could, but…

    Accepting an invitation
    Thank you, I will come.
    Of course.
    Sounds great.

    D. Requests

    This is when you want someone to do something for you; this can be polite or commanding.
    Requests usually depend on how close you are to the person to whom the request is made.
    The closer the person is to you, the less formal the request will be.
    An example of a polite way of requesting,
    “May I use your ruler please?”

    Requests can also be instructions, for example,
    “May I see you in my office, John?”
    “Please” is often used with requests to make them more polite.

    E. Apologies

    This is an admission that you have wronged others and that you are actually sorry about it.
    It is a way of asking for forgiveness for your actions.
    All apologies should start with “I am sorry” or “I apologise “.
    These phrases express regret over your actions for example;
    “I am sorry I am late sir.”

    F. Condolences

    This is an expression of sympathy and sorrow to someone who has suffered a loss, for example, you want to write a letter of condolence to a faraway friend who has lost a loved one.
    You can use phrases like;
          “My deepest condolences-----“
          “With heartfelt sympathy I say -
          “I am sorry for your loss----“
    Never use the following phrases:
          “I know how you are feeling …“
          “She or he is in a better place…”
          “Don’t worry you will feel better soon.”
          “At least the death was quick so there was no pain.”
          “At least the death was slow so you had a chance to say goodbye”

    G. Expressions of appreciation and regret

    Appreciation is showing gratitude for a good act done to you.
    Expressions that can be used to show appreciation include:

        “Thank you very much “
        “I am grateful for your support”

    Regret is the feeling that comes after wronging someone or a feeling of remorse after failing to do something well.
    Listed below are phrases used to express regret:
        “I am sorry…”
        “My sincere apologies
        “Excuse me…”
        “Pardon me…”

    H. Congratulations

    When congratulating someone you have to bring up the accomplishment.
    Say congratulations with a smile, if it is a friend or relative you can give that person a hug.
    Your tone should sound excited not flat.
    Mention your feelings on the subject, for example “Congratulations I am really happy for you.”
    Make it heartfelt.

    Examples of how to congratulate someone,
    Craig, I heard the great news that you're engaged! How wonderful!
    Celine, your father told me that you scored more points than everybody else on the team this season, congratulations!
    Lola, I just saw your Facebook post. I am so excited to hear that you're having a baby!